Hubspot, who develops software for marketing, sales, and customer service, explains that there are three parts of any strategy: 1) a diagnosis of your challenge, 2) a guiding policy for dealing with the challenge, and 3) a set of targeted actions that are necessary to accomplish the policy.
A marketing strategy is a plan for reaching a specific marketing-related goal (or goals) in a focused and achievable way. It takes into consideration what your business is currently doing well and what you’re missing in regards to the objective you set, so you’re more likely to accomplish it.
A marketing strategy consists of:
Build a marketing plan
Create customer personas
Select the appropriate tools
Account for existing resources
Audit and plan media campaigns
Bring it to fruition
1. Marketing Plan vs. Marketing Strategy
Your marketing strategy provides an overview behind the reasons why your marketing team will need certain resources, take certain actions, and set certain goals over the year. Your marketing plan is the specific actions you’ll take to achieve that strategy.
If you don’t know where to start, here’s a free marketing plan template.
2. Customer Persona
We’ve talked about customer personas before. They are an example of your ideal customer. When creating your customer persona(s), consider including customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals. The more detailed you are, the better because it will help you determine where to focus your time and guide product development.
Hubspot has a great free tool called Make My Persona that generates your customer personas. Click on the link above, then click on “Build My Persona” and get started.
I quickly made this one to show an example of what it looks like:
3. Identify Goals
Your marketing strategy goals should coincide with your business goals. For example, if one of your business goals is to have 150 people attend your annual webinar in three months, your marketing goal should be along the lines of boosting online RSVPs by 10% at the end of the month.
Other marketing goals might be:
to increase brand awareness
generate high-quality leads
to grow and maintain thought leadership
to increase customer value
to empower your colleagues
Whatever your goals are, identify what they are and how your marketing efforts can achieve them over the next year.
Here’s a free template to start setting your marketing goals.
4. Select the appropriate tools
Once you have identified your goals, make sure you have the right tools to measure the success of those goals.
Software like content schedulers (Hootsuite, Buffer, Later) help you plan content and provides analytics to understand what your audience likes.
Automation tools (Zapier) enable you to automate workflows so you can work smarter and faster.
Google Analytics, helps measure website performance.
Trello is a great project management tool and keeps communication and progress streamlined amongst teams.
Monday.com is a more intensive project management tool. It starts with a board or visually driven table and enables you to create and customize workflows for your team and keep groups, items, sub-items, and updates synced in real time.
Crazy Egg helps you optimize your website. It enables you to identify “attention hotspots” on your web pages, track ad campaign traffic on your site, and understand if customers are clicking where you want them to. You can even make sure your “buy now” buttons are in the best place. It also offers recordings, A/B testing, and more to help ensure your website is offering the best user experience and the best return.
5. Account for existing resources
Decide what you already have in your arsenal that can help you create your strategy. To streamline this process, think of your assets in three categories — paid, owned, and earned media.
Paid media means any channel you spend money on to attract your target audience. Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn offer paid media options that boost your exposure.
Owned media is any of the media you create — blog posts, ebooks, images, and infographics that you have created are examples of owned media.
Earned media is another way to say user-generated content. Shares on social media, tweets about your business, and photos posted on Instagram mentioning your company are all examples of earned media.
Gather your materials in these areas and consolidate them all in a single vehicle so you’ll have a clear vision of what you have and how you can integrate the three channels together to maximize your strategy.
For example, if you already have a blog that publishes content in your niche (owned media), you might consider promoting your blog posts on Twitter (paid media), which customers might then re-tweet (earned media). Ultimately, this helps create a better, more well-rounded strategy.
If you have resources that don’t fit into your goals, set them aside. This is a great time to clean house or identify gaps in your materials.
6. Audit and plan media campaigns.
Now that you’ve identified the assets in your arsenal, you must decide which content is going to help you. A good starting point is to focus on your owned media and marketing goals. For instance, will updating the call to action in your newsletter help you to increase RSVPs to your webinar?
Next, look at your customer personas. Let’s say you work for a video editing software company. If one of your persona’s challenges is adding clean sound effects to their videos but you don’t have any content that reflects that, make a 15-second demo video for Instagram to show how great your product is at solving that challenge.
Finally, create a content creation plan. What are you posting and where, when, why, and for whom? The plan should include the title, goals, format, and channel for each piece of content. Be sure to include which challenge it’s solving for your customer persona.
Hubspot also offers a free Content Strategy Course, which consists of 6 lessons and 25 videos (3 hours of content).
7. Bring it to fruition
At this point, your market research and planning should help you visualize how your strategy will be executed.
The final step is to bring that all together — to put actions into your planning and map out the steps you need to take to execute your campaign. In other words, define your strategy.
A standard strategy document is 12 months (but it is a living document that can change and will change). This structured timeline should be the foundation for your strategic marketing efforts.
For example, let’s go back to the video software company.
Maybe in January, you will launch a software update that improves the exportation process for users. In April, you want to publish an ebook that explains editing terms to your customer personas, and in September, you plan to launch an integration with other software.
Your strategy will be unique to your business.
(1) If you feel like you’re at a place where a marketing strategy would benefit you, start working through these steps. If not, just read through this module and make notes of what you’d like to come back to when the time is right.